An introduction to geriatrics for first-year medical students

Cynthia L. Alford, Toni Miles, Ray Palmer, David Espino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To prepare medical students to better serve their older patients while raising awareness of geriatrics as a career choice. DESIGN: To determine the impact of a new educational program, attitudinal assessments were administered to the group before and after participation in the program and to a comparison group of nonintervention students. SETTING: University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred and three first-year medical students. MEASUREMENTS: Student response on a scale of one to six regarding four constructs: Attitudes and beliefs about providing medical care for older people, knowledge and beliefs about aging, interest in pursuing clinical geriatrics, and interest in pursuing aging research. RESULTS: Four factors were consistently formed in the analysis process: Beliefs about physical decline; comfort with older people; beliefs about career opportunities; and interest in geriatric research. The intervention group made significant gains in two areas: Comfort with older people and understanding of physical decline in aging. Two new factors emerged in post-test data. CONCLUSIONS: The impact of the program was mixed. Although awareness of geriatrics and comfort with older people was increased, there was little change in career aspirations. Students in the program increased their awareness of physical decline in old age, setting the stage for teaching them about the physician's role with regard to function, and learned that geriatrics is a low-status specialty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-787
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Attitudes
  • Geriatrics education
  • Medical students
  • Older volunteers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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